Wysing is pleased to be a partner on 'The Rural: Contemporary Art and Spaces of Connection', led by Whitechapel Gallery, London and with partners Istanbul Biennial, the University of Aberystwyth, Manchester Metropolitan University, and artist collective Myvillages. 

The Rural

Through a programme of public events and research, the project will explore contemporary art in the rural sphere. Many contemporary artists, architects and creative practitioners are challenging the assumptions made about rural life, providing a new vision of the countryside grounded in everyday experience. From re-imagined farming practices and food systems to architecture, community projects and transnational local networks, this programme brings these projects to the foreground, inviting a careful and critical look at our relationships with the rural today.

The programme will offer space for knowledge sharing and collective thinking that focusses on cultural activity taking place outside urban centres globally. It will work towards a conference in 2019. Connecting the local to the global, the conference will invite an international and transdisciplinary conversation on art and the rural, with a focus on profiling lesser-known projects from across the world. Details to be announced Autumn 2018.


​Myvillages is an artist group founded in 2003 by Kathrin Böhm (UK / DE), Wapke Feenstra (NL) and Antje Schiffers (DE). The work addresses the evolving relationship between the rural and the urban, looking at different forms of production, pre-conceptions and power relationships. Myvillages initiates and organizes international artistic projects which range from small-scale informal presentations to long-term collaborative research projects, from work in private spaces to public conferences, from exhibitions to publications and from personal questions to public debate. Current and recent projects include Vorratskammer / Pantry at House of World Cultures in Berlin (2011), Good News from Nowhere at the Architecture Foundation London (2013), Lending Shape to Form (2015), A–Z Marzona Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Farmers and Ranchers(2012–2015) with M12, Colorado, US and the Fries Museum, NL and the International Village Show for the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig (2014–2016), Myvillages’ ongoing work in London includes monthly Haystacks events and Myvillages Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks project, winner of the 2014 Create Art Award.

Istanbul Biennial. The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has been organising the Istanbul Biennial since 1987. The biennial aims to create a meeting point in İstanbul in the field of visual arts between artists from diverse cultures and the audience. The fourteen biennials İKSV has organised up to now have enabled the formation of an international cultural network between local and international art circles, artists, curators and art critics by bringing together new trends in contemporary art every two years.

Considered as one of the most prestigious biennials alongside Venice, Sao Paolo and Sydney, the Istanbul Biennial prefers an exhibition model which enables a dialogue between artists and the audience through the work of the artists instead of a national representation model. It is of the utmost importance to promote local cultural sectors while generating collaboration possibilities internationally. Moreover, it is an emergency to contemplate on new forms of existence where both urban and rural are independently stable and are firm cultural/social and economic pillars. The programme’s main scope is to find ways to make the two systems beneficial for each other’s sustainability.

Whitechapel Gallery. The Whitechapel Gallery, based in East London, is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter. Their intereset in the rural stems from the fact that major cities such as London have become increasingly inhospitable due to higher rents, denser housing and rising pollution. Many look to the countryside as a place of utopian potential. However, while often defined in antithesis to the urban, the rural has its own unique politics. This series, which began in 2017, explores those politics and their impact and relevance to urban centres.

Department of Geography, The University of Aberystwyth. ‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization (GLOBAL-RURAL)’ is a major research project funded by the European Research Council. The study aims to advance our understanding of the workings and impact of globalization in rural regions through the development and application of new conceptual and methodological approaches. It is led by Professor Michael Woods.

Manchester School of Art, (Manchester Metropolitan University) is an innovator in art and design education and research in the UK. They celebrated their 180th birthday this year and drew on their experience and expertise to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses that provide their students with the essential skills and knowledge for their chosen career. Contemporary Art in rural places and the representation of rural places in visual and popular culture are significant research specialisms for staff in the Department of Art. Research is led by Dr. Rosemary Shirley.

Research trips for this project have been generously funded by Art Fund's Jonathan Ruffer curatorial research grant and through a STEP travel grant, an initiative by the European Cultural Foundation with the support of Compagnia di San Paolo.

Public events that come from this research as part of the series can be found on Whitechapel Gallery's website here.